Feb 20, 2024
Rodale study looks at cover crops as living mulch
Organic Produce Network

The Rodale Institute California Organic Center has preliminary results from its 2021 study exploring cover crops as an alternative to black plastic mulch in organic vegetable systems.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Grant-supported study focused on plastic mulches and cover crops in organic artichoke and strawberry production.

Arianna Bozzolo
Arianna Bozzolo, courtesy of the Organic Produce Network.

The Ventura-based California Organic Center compared the performance of the two cash crops in black plastic mulch to their performance in cover crop-residue and living groundcover systems.

“Specialty crop production in areas like Southern California has often relied on practices such as plastic mulch, intensive tillage, or herbicide use to manage weeds and ensure successful crop yields,” said California Organic Center Research Director Dr. Arianna Bozzolo, explaining the rationale for the study. “These practices have historically offered benefits in terms of weed control and crop yield, but they also come with environmental and sustainability challenges.”

For the study, the California Organic Center grew organic artichokes in five different production systems and then compared them:

  • Black PE plastic mulch
  • Living groundcover/intercrop of crimson clover
  • Living groundcover/intercrop of perennial white clover
  • Living groundcover/intercrop of perennial Kurapia
  • Cover crop residue of buckwheat and peas (terminated by roller crimper)

For the full story, see “Rodale shares preliminary findings from study on cover crops as alternative to plastic mulch”

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